Lee Keegan return ‘good headache’ for Stephen Rochford

Lee Keegan will make a full return to training when Mayo meet tomorrow evening, Stephen Rochford has confirmed.

The 2016 footballer of the year was involved in the team’s Thursday session but not in a complete capacity having missed the quarter-final replay with a foot problem that saw him hospitalised in Castlebar.

Speaking at yesterday evening’s press conference ahead of facing Kerry in tomorrow week’s All-Ireland semi-final, manager Rochford said the county haven’t picked up any fresh injuries following the win over Roscommon. Jason Doherty came off with a knee ailment in that game but showed no difficulties on Thursday.

“Lee trained, modified, last night but will train fully this week. Chris Barrett had a bit of a foot injury coming into the game last Monday, so he didn’t train last night but is of no concern really going into the weekend. So there’s nothing new, and we’d expect to pick from a full squad.”

Rochford knows Keegan’s availability will provide him and his management team with more ways of tailoring his team to take on Kerry. “Look, there’s always a challenge thankfully in selecting what people might reference as being the right team. But, look, Lee gives us more options and when we looked at the team prior to the game the last day, we had that conundrum as well.

“But we got a really solid performance from the 14 outfield players the last day — and David (Clarke) as well. But as regards the places that Lee will be in competition for. So it’s a good headache.”

On the appointment of Maurice Deegan as referee, Rochford said the Laois native is “a highly experienced referee, so that’s fine”. However, he echoed concerns from fellow managers like Jim Gavin and Kevin McStay about the state of the Croke Park pitch at the Hill 16 end as much as he noticed an improvement in the quarter-final replay.

“Looking back on the game the first day, you probably looked at the third of the pitch closest to the Hill. At times, fellas looked to change direction very quickly — that has proven a little bit of a challenge.

“I didn’t see the hurling last Sunday to see if that had improved in their game, with the couple of showers. I didn’t think it was as much an issue last week, and maybe that’s just an issue of allowing the grass to bed in.”


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